Most of us have been there, unless, of course, your ancestors came over as chattel, chained like an animal. There are the truly and deeply inspiring story of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents. These are the brave souls who rolled the ultimate dice to find their salvation in a place called America.
For me, the Polish grandmother and grandfather who saved every penny from their landscaping business in order to parlay it into a duplex; one apartment in which they lived and the other they rented out to pay the mortgage. How much more American can you get? My grandma learned to master English, but not my grandpa. He just worked hard. Very hard. Endlessly. But on those special occasions, such as first communion or a wedding, he had his dress suit, pants pleated and shirt starched. He had dignity. And he had found a country where that mattered. My grandma and grandpa had three great kids. One was the woman who gave me life. The other two became my uncles and were truly gentle men and learned and honest and good.
Whether a Pole or an Irishman or Cuban or Somalian or Iranian, Americans have chosen this land. It should remind of us of how this country became the country it is. And it certainly didn’t become great with a child of wealth excluding the poor and striving. It became great because we all mostly found a way to have everyone believe what they wanted to believe without feeling threatened. We didn’t feel threatened because America provided a space for all of our beliefs as long as we respected those who had different beliefs than us. We didn’t view them as enemies. We viewed them as Americans, simply trying to find the best way to provide for their families. And many times we learned from them.
We will never be a great country again until we lose the hate and fear that is driving one party’s agenda today. And in case we forgot….